Sam Barkman was born in a mud hut in Tshikapa, Belgian Congo to missionary parents who served there for over 30 years. His mother, a trained nurse, was the only medical help for over 240,000 natives. His father was a principal for a school that educated the native population to the 8th grade.  They took Sam to a home of relatives in Berne, Indiana.


When Sam was two years old his parents returned to the Congo and left him behind in care of his grandparents and two maiden aunts.  They returned every six years, and finally remained with him while he was attending high school, returning to the Congo while Sam was enrolled in Bethel College in Kansas.  He graduated as a vocal music major but instead went to work in the advertising department of the Wichita Kansas Beacon.  He also directed a small church choir in Wichita where a young lady named Lydia Voth joined the choir without Sam’s permission.


Shortly thereafter, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 41st Evacuation Hospital.  He was then sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina where Sam served as a chaplain’s assistant mainly due to his musical ability.  After 15 months of training including the Tennessee Maneuvers, he was sent overseas in November 1943 sailing on the Queen Mary from New York to Scotland in only 3 days and 18 hours.  From November to June Sam was stationed in Gloucestershire, England where he was assigned to the Plans and Training Department.  He was put in charge of the Special Services Department where he edited a weekly 8-page newspaper that included social and entertainment activities for more then 300 servicemen.


His outfit left for the invasion of Normandy, arriving at Omaha Beach at D+4 but was not allowed to land until D+5.  By D+6 his outfit had their hospital open and they were assigned to the 29th Infantry Division.  His group stayed on to the end of the war and served over 33,000 patients, losing less then 2% including DOA’s.  When Sam was discharged his rank was a T/3.


Arriving in the U.S., Sam spent a week with his parents in Kansas whom he had not seen for over 10 years.  He then went on to San Joaquin, California where his former acquaintance Lydia Voth was teaching school.  Only four hours after meeting they were engaged and within one week they were married.  Sam decided then and there to teach in San Joaquin with Lydia and not return to the newspaper business in Wichita.  In 1948 the Barkmans moved to Fresno, California where Sam taught at Jackson Elementary School as a 5th grade teacher and choir director.  After 5 years Sam moved to Sequoia Junior High School where he became the Vocal Music teacher that was his first love, working with over 300 students.  He also became the Youth Choir Director at the First Presbyterian Church, working with 3 choirs totaling over 200 singers each week.  Six years later Sam moved on to Fresno’s McLane High School, teaching 5 periods of choir every day.  He also formed a community boy’s choir with 70 young men that rehearsed twice weekly.  It was named the Lisle Boys Choir and appeared at various functions for sixteen years, appearing on television shows each year at Christmas and Easter.


During his teaching years Sam enrolled in the conservatory of music at the University of Pacific in Stockton and received a master’s degree in music.  During summers, Sam worked on the University’s summer music staff as director of Junior High School Choral Music and served as dean of boys for 5 one-week camps that included band, orchestra and choirs.  Over 500 students participated in the camp and performed 5 summer concerts.  This continued for 25 years and included his organizing chairmanship of the Pacific Clinic choir during winter clinics that had over 2000 singers.  In Fresno, Sam hired on as the Director of Music for the First Presbyterian Church that had 3 choirs. He organized the Fresno “Messiah Sing Along” that included directing 800 singers, a 40-piece orchestra and an organist.  His work lasted for 20 years with this group.


Six years ago, Sam completely retired completing 35 years with the school district and 40 years of church choir work.  He also served with Swiss Air for 19 years as a tour host.   In 1986, Sam received from the Northern California Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, the Howard Swan Award for outstanding contributions to choral music.  The Chapter has over 450 choral directors in its membership.  Sam has served as a docent at the Legion of Valor Museum for over 2 years and enjoyed his volunteer work there.